The climate in Norway changes a lot between each season, and a visit in the middle of summer will be a very different experience compared to a visit during the winter. So when exactly is the best time to visit Norway?
The best time to visit Norway depends on what you want to do. If you want to experience the hiking trails, natural wonders, tourist attractions and warm weather, summer or early autumn is best. If you instead want to experience the amazing skiing opportunities, the northern lights or the cold snow, winter is the best time.
Some people also prefer the shoulder season in spring or autumn due to cheaper prices on accommodations and less crowds at the tourist attractions.
So before you plan when to visit Norway, you should ask yourself what exactly you want to experience when you are visiting. Let’s take a closer look at what each season in Norway is like to make your choice a bit more well-informed.
Spring in Norway: Sunny, but chilly days with snow in the mountains
We regard March, April and May as the official spring months in Norway, and this is actually a very nice time to visit.
Some of the benefits of visiting during the spring is that you will be able to experience all the good thing about the winter by going up to the mountains, while the lowlands will be more temperate, and you can safely be outside without freezing too much.
The weather in spring can be very changing, from sunny and 15 C one day to close to freezing degrees and lots of rain the next. The early spring can also have some snowfall, but this will usually lead to lots of melted snow, and not a real layer of snow that covers the ground.
The farther north you are, the more like winter the spring will feel like. Places like Tromsø or Lofoten is still very wintery in March and April, and will have plenty of snow cover.
If you want to go skiing or take a hike in the snow, go to the mountains to designated skiing villages like Geilo or Valdres. There are plenty of places with snow during early spring, and there are many different skiing villages where you can go skiing until pretty much the start of summer.
You will need to bring warm clothing if you visit Norway during the spring, but if you’re lucky you might not need to use your jacket at the middle of the day. Be aware that it tends to rain a lot during spring, so always bring waterproof shoes and a waterproof jacket with you.
The end of spring will also include May 17th, the national day in Norway. This is a very cool and unique experience where you get to see a completely unique part of Norwegian culture. This 1-day event is a huge celebration that you are guaranteed to remember for the rest of your life!
Some of the downsides to visiting Norway during the spring is that there is still a lot of snow in the mountains, and most hikes are pretty wet to say the least. You might not be able to use all the hiking trials just yet, but many of them will be ready, especially later in the spring.
You will generally not be able to complete hikes like Pulpit Rock, Trolltunga or Kjeragbolten without special hiking equipment in the early spring, since there will be many areas with partial snow or ice cover.
Summer in Norway: Norway’s High Season
I love the Norwegian summer, and I would advise everyone to come to Norway during the summer. The temperature is usually pretty warm in the early 20s (70 F), so it’s not too warm, but also not too cold.
The summer in Norway allows you to do most of the common tourist stuff, and it is the most popular season for both Norwegian and foreign tourists. All the hiking trials are open, and many things like museums and zoos are only open during the summer. This allows you to do most of the things Norway has to offer.
It is also possible to swim at the beaches during summer, and the water can reach pretty nice temperatures. There are many good beaches in Norway, and it’s definitely not too cold for a day at the beach when the sun is out.
The summer allows for camping in the wilderness, long days with a sun that never sets, swimming in the fjords, or going on hikes to natural wonders.
If you want to experience the snow, skiing or things like that, then the summer is obviously not your best choice. There might be a few areas with snow if you go hiking up high in the mountains, but most of Norway is completely free of snow during the summer.
Autumn i Norway: A bit chilly, but absolutely beautiful
The autumn start at the beginning of September, and this marks a pretty big change in the Norwegian weather. The warm summer evenings will quickly be changed into cold gusts of wind that makes the air very refreshing and nice.
You will have to bring a jacket with you for most of the autumn, but there are occasionally hot days as well where you can enjoy the autumn sun. If you don’t mind the chilly air, a visit to Norway in the autumn can make for some incredible experiences!
I would say that early autumn is a good time to visit Norway. Most Norwegians are back at work, school has started for the children, but the weather is still pretty nice, and you can still experience most of what Norway has to offer, but with many fewer tourists, so it won’t feel as crowded.
Some of the downsides to visiting at autumn is that there is a lot of rain, and you might get very unlucky and get 4 -5 days in a row with heavy rainfall.
Norwegians typically know how to dress for these autumn days, so take a look at what they wear, and try to copy it. You will want to always bring some extra clothes, because the weather can get from nice and sunny to cold and rainy very fast!
It is usually not very snowy in most parts of Norway during the autumn, and there might not be much real snowfall until late November. Last year’s snow has long since melted, and it’s bare in most of the country. So autumn is terrible choice if you want to go skiing.
Winter in Norway: The Incredible Winter Wonderland
The winter in Norway is unique, and a very different experience for people that are used to living further south. Many people think of Norway as a frozen wasteland, and this might be somewhat true during the winter, especially in northern Norway.
If you visit Norway between December and February, expect a lot of snow, cold weather and icy roads. The days will be very short, and there are only a few hours of daylight at the middle of winter.
In the far north, there it no sun at all during the winter months. This phenomenon is known as polar nights, and the middle of the days are still covered by darkness. It’s not exactly pitch black in the middle of the day, but it’s more akin to dark twilight.
Visiting Norway during the winter can be a great experience, but tourists tend to bring less clothes than they need. You will need to wear wool under your clothes on cold days if you want to spend time outside.
The temperature can vary very much. Some days the temperatue might linger around 0 degrees, but certain days might be super cold even in places like Oslo. Be prepared for temperatures as low as -20, even though they are pretty rare in the lowlands in the southern part of Norway.
Towns in the mountains, such as skiing villages, will usually see many days with -15 to -25 degrees, so make sure to bring enough clothes if you are going to visit these places during winter.
If you enjoy skiing, then the winter is obviously a good time. Most parts of Norway will be covered in snow during the winter, but there might be certain times when a hot weather streak melts the ice.
January is generally the best month to visit if you want to experience a lot of snow. And the further north you go, the colder and more snowier does the winter get.
The downside to visiting during the winter is that the lack of sun can make it a bit boring, since you only have a few hours to actually see stuff. This makes it difficult to see some of the natural wonders of Norway, and it can feel pretty boring to travel from place to place since it will usually be dark outside.
Norwegian people also tend to be a little less open to tourists during the winter. People often spend most of their time inside, and don’t really care to stop for a chat outside when it’s cold. So you might feel that people are less open than they are otherwise.
Winter events in Norway
The Christmas Celebration is a big thing in Norway, and takes up pretty much all of December. The first 3 weeks are often super busy for Norwegians, and you will see huge crowds of people shopping, so all the city centers and shopping malls are bustling with life.
There will be lots of Christmas events in all of December, which can be a unique experience that is worth checking out. Christmas decorations will fill up most public places.
The actual celebration begins around December 21 – 23, with the main celebration being on Christmas Eve on December 24.
Not only will the Christmas Celebration affect your daily activities as a tourist, but you should also be aware that most shops are closed during the public holidays during Christmas. The same goes for museums and many tourist attractions, so the last two weeks in December will severely impact your visit.
At the same time, it’s something magical about visiting Norway during Christmas, so it’s both a pro and a con.
So when’s the best time to visit Norway?
It is worth keeping in mind that this is only a general summary of each season, and there will obviously be big variations from place to place and from year to year.
I would argue that there is no «best season» for visiting Norway, and each season has both pros and cons. Choose whichever suits you the best, depending on how well you are at dealing with the weather.
Frequently asked questions about the best time to visit Norway
When is the best time to visit Norway?
When the best time to visit Norway is truly depends on what you want to do. That said, most tourists visit during the summer. This is when all tourist attractions are open, the weather is at its best, and places like Lofoten, the big cities, the fjord regions and the hikes are most beautiful and accessible.
When is the best time to visit Norway for seeing the northern lights?
The best time to see the northern lights in Norway is during the winter. Anytime from late October to early April has a chance of having the aurora borealis, but the main northern lights season is in December to February.
You will want to travel pretty far north to a city like Bodø, Alta, Tromsø or the North Cape to have a decent chance of seeing the aurora, even though it’s possible to catch the northern lights in Oslo a few times each winter.
When is the best time to visit Norway for snow?
The best time to visit Norway to be guaranteed snow is December to March for northern Norway or in mountain regions, or January to February for anywhere in the lowlands south of Trondheim.
There will usually be snow outside of these time periods as well, but it’s not guaranteed since the days in March can have really warm weather that melts the snow (temporarily) in southern Norway.
When is the best time to visit Norway for seeing the fjords?
If you’re coming to Norway to see the incredible fjords on the western coast, then you want to visit in summer. This is when the fjords are at their best, and there are no less chance of roads being closed due to weather. Many hotels, campsites and attractions near the fjords are only open during the summer season.
The spring and autumn season are also pretty amazing, but they have a high chance of raining. And when it rains it pours in western Norway, so bring waterproof clothing and your umbrella if you’re visiting the fjords in spring or autumn.
When is the best time to visit Norway for a road trip?
The best time to visit Norway for a road trip is probably in the late spring, summer or early autumn. This is when the roads are best to drive, and you can freely drive in the country without having to fear roads that are closed due to storms, winter closed roads, convoy driving or icy roads.
When are most tourists visiting Norway?
Norway’s main tourist season is in the middle of summer in June and July. This is true for both international tourists as well as Norwegian tourists. August is fairly popular as well, but not as popular as June or July is.
When is it cheapest to visit Norway?
The cheapest time to visit Norway is generally in the shoulder seasons in early spring or late autumn.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.